S. Austin Allibone, comp. Prose Quotations from Socrates to Macaulay. 1880.
It is certain there is no other passion which does produce such contrary effects in so great a degree. But this may be said for love, that if you strike it out of the soul, life would he insipid, and our being but half animated. Human nature would sink into deadness and lethargy, if not quickened with some active principle; and as for all others, whether ambition, envy, or avarice, which are apt to possess the mind in the absence of this passion, it must be allowed that they have greater pains, without the compensation of such exquisite pleasures as those we find in love. The great skill is to heighten the satisfactions and deaden the sorrows of it; which, has been the end of many of my labours, and shall continue to be so, for the service of the world in general, and in particular of the fair sex, who are always the best or the worst part of it. It is a pity that a passion which has in it a capacity of making life happy should not be cultivated to the utmost advantage. Reason, prudence, and good nature, rightly applied, can thoroughly accomplish this great end, provided they have always a real and constant love to work on.
A disappointment in love is more hard to get over than any other; the passion itself so softens and subdues the heart that it disables it from struggling or bearing up against the woes and distresses which befall it. The mind meets with other misfortunes in her whole strength; she stands collected within herself, and sustains the shock with all the force which is natural to her; but a heart in love has its foundation sapped, and immediately sinks under the weight of accidents that are disagreeable to its favourite passion.
The consciousness of being loved softens the keenest pang, even at the moment of parting; yea, even the eternal farewell is robbed of half its bitterness when uttered in accents that breathe love to the last sigh.
You may observe that amongst all the great and worthy persons (whereof the memory remaineth, either ancient or recent) there is not one that hath been transported to the mad degree of love,which shows that great spirits and great business do keep out this weak passion. You must except, nevertheless, Marcus Antoninus, the half-partner of the empire of Rome, and Appius Claudius, the decemvir and lawgiver .
They do best who, if they cannot but admit love, yet make it keep quarter, and sever it wholly from their serious affairs and actions of life; for if it check once with business it troubleth mens fortunes, and maketh men that they can no ways be true to their own ends.
There is in mans nature a secret inclination and motion towards the love of others, which, if it be not spent upon one or a few, doth naturally spread itself towards many, and maketh men become humane and charitable.
Here are the two great principles upon which charitable or pious uses depend. The love of God is the basis of all that are bestowed for His honour, the building up of His church, the support of His ministers, the religious instruction of mankind. The love of his neighbour is the principle that prompts and consecrates all the rest. The currents of these two great affections finally run together, and they are at all times so near that they can hardly be said to be separated. The love of ones neighbour leads the heart upward to the common Father of all, and the love of God leads it through Him to all His children.
Horace Binney: Argument Vidal v. the City of Philadelphia, 1844, 28.
This sublime love, being, by an intimate conjunction with its object, thoroughly refined from all base dross of selfishness and interest, nobly begets a perfect submission of our wills to the will of God.
It is this desire of the happiness of those whom we love which gives to the emotion of love itself its principal delight, by affording to us constant means of gratification. He who truly wishes the happiness of any one cannot be long without discovering some means of contributing to it. Reason itself, with all its light, is not so rapid in discoveries of this sort as simple affection, which sees means of happiness, and of important happiness, where reason scarcely could think that any happiness was to be found, and has already by many kind offices produced the happiness of hours before reason could have suspected that means so slight could have given even a moments pleasure. It is this, indeed, which contributes in no inconsiderable degree to the perpetuity of affection. Love, the mere feeling of tender admiration, would in many cases have soon lost its power over the fickle heart, and in many other cases would have had its power greatly lessened, if the desire of giving happiness, and the innumerable little courtesies and cares to which this desire gives birth, had not thus in a great measure diffused over a single passion the variety of many emotions.
Dr. T. Brown: Lects. on the Philos. of the Human Mind.
But if you listen to the complaints of a forsaken lover, you observe that he insists largely on the pleasures which he enjoyed, or hoped to enjoy, and on the perfection of the object of his desires: it is the loss which is always uppermost in his mind. The violent effects produced by love, which has sometimes been even wrought up to madness, is no objection to the rule which we seek to establish. When men have suffered their imaginations to be long affected with any idea, it so wholly engrosses them as to shut out by degrees almost every other, and to break down every partition of the mind which would confine it. Any idea is sufficient for this purpose, as is evident from the infinite variety of causes which give rise to madness; but this at most can only prove that the passion of love is capable of producing very extraordinary effects, not that its extraordinary emotions have any connection with positive pain.
But the petitioners are violent. Be it so. Those who are least anxious about your conduct are not those that love you most. Moderate affection and satiated enjoyment are cold and respectful; but an ardent and injured passion is tempered up with wrath, and grief, and shame, and conscious worth, and the maddening sense of violated right. A jealous love lights his torch from the firebrands of the furies.
Edmund Burke: Speech on the Plan for Economical Reform, Feb. 11, 1780.
That even among the most hackneyed and most hardened of malefactors there is still about them a softer part which will give way to the demonstrations of tenderness; that this one ingredient of a better character is still found to survive the dissipation of all the others, that, fallen as a brother may be from the moralities which at one time adorned him, the manifested good will of his fellow-man still carries a charm and an influence along with it; and that, therefore, there lies in this an operation which, as no poverty can vitiate, so no depravity can extinguish.
Dr. Thomas Chalmers: Sermons on Depravity, Serm. X.
Attachment must burn in oxygen, or it will go out; and by oxygen, I mean a mutual admiration and pursuit of virtue, improvement, utility, the pleasures of taste, or some other interesting concern, which shall be the element of their commerce, and make them love each other, not only for each other, but as devotees to some third object which they both adore.
Whether love be natural or no, replied my friend, gravely, it contributes to the happiness of every society into which it is introduced. All our pleasures are short, and can only charm at intervals: love is a method of protracting our greatest pleasure; and surely that gamester who plays the greatest stake to the best advantage will, at the end of life, rise victorious.
Love is of two sorts, of friendship and of desire; the one betwixt friends, the other betwixt lovers; the one a rational, the other a sensitive love: so our love of God consists of two parts, as esteeming of God, and desiring of him.
In love, the state which fills the heart with a degree of solicitude next that of an author, it has been held as a maxim, that success is most easily obtained by indirect and unperceived approaches; he who too soon professes himself a lover raises obstacles to his own wishes, and those whom disappointments have taught experience endeavour to conceal their passion till they believe their mistress wishes for the discovery.
Womans is comparatively a fixed, a secluded, and a meditative life. She is more the companion of her own thoughts and feelings; and if they are turned to ministers of sorrow, where shall she look for consolation? Her lot is to be wooed and won; and if unhappy in her love, her heart is like some fortress that his been captured, and sacked, and abandoned, and left desolate. How many bright eyes grow dimhow many soft cheeks grow palehow many lovely forms fade away into the tomb, and none can tell the cause that blighted their loveliness! As the dove will clasp its wings to its side, and cover and conceal the arrow that is preying on its vitals, so it is the nature of woman to hide from the world the pangs of wounded affection. The love of a delicate female is always shy and silent. Even when fortunate, she scarcely breathes it to herself; but when otherwise, she buries it in the recesses of her bosom, and there lets it cower and brood among the ruins of her peace. With her, the desire of her heart has failed,the great charm of her existence is at an end. She neglects all the cheerful exercises which gladden the spirits, quicken the pulse, and send the tide of life in healthful currents through the veins. Her rest is broken, the sweet refreshment of sleep is poisoned by melancholy dreams, dry sorrow drinks her blood, until her enfeebled frame sinks under the slightest external injury. Look for her, after a little while, and you will find friendship weeping over her untimely grave, and wondering that one who but lately glowed with all the radiance of health and beauty should so speedily be brought down to darkness and the worm. You will be told of some casual indisposition that laid her low; but no one knows the mental malady that sapped her strength and made her so easy a prey to the spoiler.
Tell a man passionately in love that he is jilted, bring a score of witnesses of the falsehood of his mistress, and it is ten to one but three kind words of hers shall invalidate all their testimonies.
Oh, how beautiful it is to love! Even thou that sneerest and laughest in cold indifference or scorn if others are near thee,thou, too, must acknowledge its truth when thou art alone, and confess that a foolish world is prone to laugh in public at what in private it reveres as one of the highest impulses of our nature; namely, love.
Oh, there is nothing holier in this life of ours than the first consciousness of lovethe first fluttering of its silken wingsthe first rising sound and breath of that wind which is so soon to sweep through the soul, to purify or to destroy!
Why have I been born with all these warm affections, these ardent longings after good, if they lead only to sorrow and disappointment? I would love some onelove him once, and foreverdevote myself to him alonelive for himdie for himexist alone in him! But, alas! in all this wide world there is none to love me as I would be lovednone whom I may love as I am capable of loving! How empty, how desolate seems the world about me! Why has Heaven given me these affections only to fall and fade?
Of all the agonies of life, that which is most poignant and harrowingthat which for the time annihilates reason, and leaves our whole organization one lacerated, mangled heartis the conviction that we have been deceived where we placed all the trust of love.
Let thy love be to the best, so long as they do well; but take heed that thou love God, thy country, thy prince, and thine own estate, before all others! for the fancies of men change, and he that loves to-day hateth to-morrow; but let reason be thy school-mistress, which shall ever guide thee aright.
A lovers hope resembles the bean in the nursery-tale: let it once take root, and it will grow so rapidly that in the course of a few hours the giant Imagination builds a castle on the top, and by-and-by comes Disappointment with the curtal-axe, and hews down both the plant and the superstructure.
Thou demandest, What is love? It is that powerful attraction towards all that we conceive, or fear, or hope beyond ourselves, when we find within our own thoughts the chasm of an insufficient void, and seek to awaken in all things that are, a community with what we experience within ourselves. If we reason, we would be understood; if we imagine, we would that the airy children of our brain were born anew within anothers; if we feel, we would that anothers nerves should vibrate to our own; that lips of motionless ice should not reply to lips quivering and burning with the hearts best blood. This is love. This is the bond and the sanction which connects not only man with man, but with everything which exists. We are born into the world, and there is something within us which, from the instant that we live, more and more thirsts after its likeness.
It is said that in love we idolize the object, and, placing him apart and selecting him from his fellows, look on him as superior in nature to all others. We do so; but even as we idolize the object of our affections, do we idolize ourselves: if we separate him from his fellow-mortals, so do we separate ourselves, and glorying in belonging to him alone, feel lifted above all other sensations, all other joys and griefs, to one hallowed circle from which all but his idea is banished: we walk as if a mist, or some more potent charm, divided us from all but him; a sanctified victim, which none but the priest set apart for that office could touch and not pollute, enshrined in a cloud of glory, made glorious through beauties not our own.
The passion of love generally appears to everybody but the man who feels it entirely disproportionate to the value of the object; and though love is pardoned in a certain age, because we know it is natural, having violently seized the imagination, yet it is always laughed at, because we cannot enter into it; and all serious and strong expressions of it appear ridiculous to a third person; and though a lover is good company to his mistress, he is so to nobody else.
Love is the great instrument of nature, the bond and cement of society, the spirit and spring of the universe. Love is such an affection as cannot so properly be said to be in the soul, as the soul to be in that: it is the whole nature wrapt up into one desire.
It is confessed that love changed often doth nothing; nay, it is nothing; for love where it is kept fixed to its first object, though it burn not, yet it warms and cherishes, so as it needs no transplantation or change of soil to make it fruitful.
That which we call gallantry to women seems to be the heroic virtue of private persons; and there never breathed one man who did not, in that part of his days wherein he was recommending himself to his mistress, do something beyond his ordinary course of life. As this has a very great effect even upon the most slow and common men, so, upon such as it finds qualified with virtue and merit, it shines out in proportionable degrees of excellence. It gives new grace to the most eminent accomplishments; and he who of himself has either wit, wisdom, or valour exerts each of those noble endowments, when he becomes a lover, with a certain beauty of action above what was ever observed in him before; and all who are without any one of these qualities are to be looked upon as the rabble of mankind.
There is a kind of sympathy in souls, that fits them for each other; and we may be assured when we see two persons engaged in the warmths of a mutual affection, that there are certain qualities in both their minds which bear a resemblance to one another. A generous and constant passion in an agreeable lover, where there is not too great a disparity in other circumstances, is the greatest blessing that can befall the person beloved; and, if overlooked in one, may perhaps never be found in another.
There is no calamity in life that falls heavier upon human nature than a disappointment in love; especially when it happens between two persons whose hearts are mutually engaged to each other. It is this distress which has given occasion to some of the finest tragedies that were ever written; and daily fills the world with melancholy, discontent, frenzy, sickness, despair, and death. I have often admired at the barbarity of parents, who so frequently interpose their authority in this grand article of life. I would fain ask Sylvias father, whether he thinks he can bestow a greater favour on his daughter, than to put her in the way to live happily?
Daily experience shows us that the most rude rustic grows humane as soon as he is inspired by this passion: it gives a new grace to our manners, a new dignity to our minds, a new visage to our persons. Whether we are inclined to liberal arts, to arms, or address in our exercise, our improvement is hastened by a particular object whom we would please. Cheerfulness, gentleness, fortitude, liberality, magnificence, and all the virtues which adorn men, which inspire heroes, are most conspicuous in lovers.
Celestial love, with the affections of good and truth, and the perceptions thence derived, and at the same time with the delights of those affections and the thoughts thence derived, may be compared to a tree with beautiful branches, leaves, and fruits: the lifes love is that tree; the branches, with the leaves, are the affections of good and truth, with their perceptions; and the fruits are the delights of the affections, with their thoughts.
The experience of those profitable emanations from God most commonly are the first motive of our love; but when we once have tasted his goodness we love the spring for its own excellency; passing from considering ourselves to an union with God.
No man can think it grievous who considers the pleasures and sweetness of love, and the glorious victory of overcoming evil with good, and then compares these with the restless torment and perpetual tumults of a malicious and revengeful spirit.
Many a generous sentiment, and many a virtuous resolution, have been called forth and matured by admiration of one who may herself, perhaps, have been incapable of either. It matters not what the object is that a man aspires to be worthy of, and proposes as a model of imitation, if he does but believe it to be excellent. Moreover, all doubts of success (and they are seldom, if ever, entirely wanting) must either produce or exercise humility; and the endeavour to study anothers interests and inclinations and prefer them to ones own may promote a habit of general benevolence which may outlast the present occasion. Everything, in short, which tends to abstract a man in any degree or in any way from selffrom self-admiration and self-interesthas, so far at least, a beneficial influence on character.
Richard Whately: Annot. on Bacons Essay, Of Love.
By loves delightful influence the attack of ill-humour is resisted, the violence of our passions abated, the bitter cup of affliction sweetened, all the injuries of the world alleviated, and the sweetest flowers plentifully strewed along the most thorny paths of life.